Palestinians Clash With Police at US Embassy in Lebanon

December 10, 2017

Lebanese security forces fired tear gas at protesters near the US Embassy in Lebanon during a demonstration against President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.


Protesters threw stones at security forces who had barricaded the main road leading to the US embassy in the Awkar area, north of Beirut, on Sunday.


Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, reporting from Awkar, said several hundred Palestinians clashed with the security forces.


"There is a lot of anger here. What they're chanting is 'Palestine forgive us, they closed the door on us', clearly in reference to Arab leaders," Khodr said.


"The anger is not just directed at the United States for its decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The protesters here feel Arab leaders have just been talking, but not taking any action. What people here are calling for is a new intifada and on the Palestinian Authority to end the peace process," she added.


Security forces cordoned off the area around the embassy and deployed water cannon, stopping people about 3km away from the embassy building.


Demonstrators were trying to remove the barbed wire and climb over the barricade.


Security forces responded by firing tear gas canisters to disperse the protesters. The Lebanese government has called on the protesters not to damage property in the area.


Since 1947, Palestinians fleeing Israel have settled across Lebanon in 12 refugee camps. Official figures show there are about 450,000 Palestinians in Lebanon, but over the years the number has decreased.


"Many of them have given up hope of returning to Palestine, and have moved to Europe, to Canada. They find any route out of Lebanon, because they are denied many right here," Khodr said, adding that this was not the first protest of its kind since Trump announced his decision on Jerusalem.


"Protests have been taking place across Lebanon since Wednesday. Tomorrow (Monday), we are expecting a mass rally in the southern suburbs of Beirut, called for by Hezbollah."


International condemnation


Trump's embassy move has inflamed the Israel-Palestine conflict, in which the status ofJerusalem is a key issue. The Palestinians see occupied East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.


On Sunday, violence erupted for a fourth day in the occupied Palestinian territories in response to Trump's announcement. Witnesses said Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters at groups of rallying youth in the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem.


The protests came after Israeli air raids killed two Palestinians in Gaza on Saturday after fighters reportedly fired rockets from Gaza into Israel on Friday.


Other protests have taken place in the Indonesia capital, Jakarta, where about 10,000 people rallied on Sunday outside the US Embassy to denounce Trump's decision.


The head of the Arab League called the decision "dangerous and unacceptable" and a "flagrant attack on a political solution" to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.


The statement by Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, the regional bloc's secretary-general, came after an emergency meeting of foreign ministers from 22 Arab states in Egypt's capital, Cairo, on Saturday.


Aboul-Gheit said Trump's decision was "against international law and raises questions over American efforts to support peace" between Palestine and Israel.


The shift in US policy "undermines Arab confidence" in the Trump administration and "amounts to the legalisation" of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, he added.


Leaders from across the globe made similar remarks in the days before and after Trump's announcement on Wednesday. The US president also ordered the US embassy be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.


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